CSKA rebounds and rallies to win at Zenit
Defending champion CSKA Moscow got back to winning ways by defeating fellow Russian side Zenit St Petersburg 70-87 on Friday at Sibur Arena. CSKA raised its record to 5-1, good for at least a share of second place, while Zenit remains winless at home, dropping to 2-4. CSKA took control with a 3-19 run bridging the first two quarters to open a 15-point lead. Zenit erased that with a 15-0 third-quarter run, but Mike James and Darrun Hilliard answered by hitting 4 consecutive triples as CSKA pulled away again and cruised to victory. James led CSKA with 16 points, while Johannes Voigtmann had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Nikita Kurbanov and Darrun Hilliard scored 13 apiece for the winners. Gustavo Ayon paced Zenit with 20 points on 10-for-14 two-point shooting and 8 rebounds. Will Thomas added 14 points and Austin Hollins 13 points for the hosts.
Hollins had 6 of Zenit's first 8 points and his assist set up Will Thomas to give the hosts a 12-11 lead. But Nikita Kurbanov had 10 points in the first quarter, including 2 triples that put CSKA up 12-18, before threes from Johannes Voigtmann and Semen Antonov boosted the visitors to a 15-26 advantage after 10 minutes. A driving dunk from Ivan Ukhov made it to 15-30 early in the second quarter before Tim Abromaitis hit back-to-back triples, Zenit's first of the night, to stop the bleeding. Thomas downed a pair of layups for the hosts, but Ukhov hit from downtown, and so did Mike James, reupping the margin to 30-45. Zenit managed to cut into the lead with a three from Dmitry Khvostov and a pair of layups from Ayon, making it 37-48 at the break.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Kurbanov and Hilliard put CSKA up 37-54 to start the third quarter, but Zenit got it going offensively with Thomas scoring 7 points and Hollins landing a transition triple during a 15-0 run to tie 59-59 in the final minute of the third quarter. Zenit never went in front, however. James ended CSKA's drought by nailing an off-balance triple early in the fourth, before Hilliard knocked down a pair from downtown, and James hit another one to make it 61-73 lead with 6 minutes left. Ayon worked inside to keep Zenit in it, but Voigtmann hit his fourth three-pointer and led a fastbreak that increased the margin to 67-83, sealing the deal.
One run trumps another
CSKA was without a field goal for more than 6 minutes to finish third quarter, allowing Zenit a run of 15 unanswered points, but then Mike James and Darrun Hilliard caught fire at the start of the fourth, each hitting a pair of three-pointers to put together a 12-0 run as CSKA never looked back.
Just 48 hours after making 7 triples in a home loss to Olympiacos Piraeus, CSKA nailed 16 of them in this game. James and Johannes Voigtmann each knocked down 4, while Hilliard and Nikita Kurbanov hit 3 each.
Kings of the road
With this result, CSKA extended its road winning streak to 13. That run that includes two playoff road wins last season, two victories at the 2019 Final Four, and a perfect 3-0 road record this season. During that same period, CSKA has 10-4 record at home.
Strong inside performance
Although it came in a losing effort, Gustavo Ayon had a big performance, making 10 of 14 two-point shots. Nando De Colo is the only player with more two-point shots made in a game this season, and for Ayon marks his third game with 10 or more two-pointers made since the beginning of last season, more than any other player in the EuroLeague during that span.
Next week in Round 7, Zenit has another Russian derby on its slate when it welcomes Khimki Moscow Region, while CSKA travels to face LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
Sunday, December 1, 2019